Compulsive gambling is a recognized addiction, just like alcoholism or chemical dependency. Follow these steps to see if you might fit the profile.
Step 1: Recognize the number one red flag Recognize the number one red flag, which is that you are taking valuable time away from your job and your family to gamble.
Step 2: Evaluate your financial situation Evaluate your financial situation. Are you borrowing or even stealing money in order to gamble? Has your gambling resulted in bounced checks and credit card debt?
Step 3: Uncover hidden meanings Uncover the hidden meanings of your actions. If you’re secretive about your gambling or if you lie about it, you are tacitly acknowledging that you have a problem. If you’ve tried to cut back or quit, you know that you do.
TIP: If you have children, it’s doubly important to get help. Research shows that 50 percent of the children of pathological gamblers eventually become compulsive gamblers themselves.
Step 4: Assess your feelings Assess your feelings. Do you feel guilty and remorseful after you gamble? Do you gamble to distract yourself from problems or to relieve anxiety – the way someone else might rely on drugs or alcohol?
Step 5: Face escalating behavior Look back on your gambling history. Do you have to keep increasing the amounts you bet in order to achieve the same high?
Step 6: Ask yourself Ask yourself if you fit the profile casinos use to scope out problem gamblers: They play longer than three hours, are prone to outbursts, and make frequent trips to the ATM machine.
Step 7: Gauge your optimism Gauge your optimism. Considering the odds against you, are your expectations of winning unreasonably high? Irrational optimism is another sign of gambling addiction.
Step 8: Get help If any of the preceding descriptions apply to you, get help for your addiction – before you lose your family, your friends, your job, your financial security, and maybe even your freedom.
FACT: Compulsive gambling rates double within 50 miles of a new casino, according to a federal study.